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The Vietnam War memorial at Lejeune Memorial Gardens.
The Vietnam War memorial at Lejeune Memorial Gardens. (Facebook)

(Tribune News Service) — North Carolina has a rich military history that stretches back before statehood.

The State Archives of North Carolina Military Collection's Veterans Oral History Interview Collection contains more than 1,100 oral history interviews of military veterans living in or from North Carolina.

North Carolina is also home to a wealth of sites that memorialize the courage and sacrifice of the state's military veterans.

New Bern National Cemetery

In 1867, the New Bern National Cemetery was established north of downtown New Bern, a short distance from the western bank of the Neuse River. The cemetery is the final resting place for Union soldiers who perished in the battle for New Bern and other engagements in coastal North Carolina. Three hundred U.S. Colored Troops are interred in the national cemetery, as are more than 1,050 unknown soldiers. Today, more than 6,500 people are interred in the cemetery's 7.7 acres, which are dotted with numerous private grave markers, and four large monuments.

Lejeune Memorial Gardens

A collection of monuments greets visitors outside the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. The newest addition, the Montford Point Marine Memorial, honors African-American Marines who trained at a segregated camp during World War II. Other areas include the nation's second-largest Vietnam War memorial, a beam from the World Trade Center, and a site devoted to the 1983 Beirut bombing that killed more than 240 service members.

North Carolina Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park

This somber memorial features a wall made of North Carolina red brick. The center panel of the front face of the memorial contains the names of over 1,620 North Carolinians killed or missing in Vietnam, while the foot of the monument lists the counties from which the dead hailed. In addition, a plaque displays the dedication date and honors those who lost their lives as well as those who served during the war.

Wayne County Veterans Memorial

The Wayne County Veterans Memorial is a living monument erected to honor veterans who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. The site includes a Memorial Wall, Pavilion, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Veterans Memorial, Wayne County Vietnam War Memorial, Wayne County Granite Map, a fountain and illuminated flags. Five bronze plaques recovered from the 2004 fire list veterans’ names.

Garner Veterans Memorial

The Garner Veterans Memorial was designed to honor all veterans, especially those who died during conflict and war. Veterans from all branches of service are honored in the memorial's Walkway of Honor. Proceeds from the sale of the bricks, which were donated by family and friends of those honored, helped support the funding for the project. The memorial also includes picnic shelters, playgrounds, walking trails, water fountains, and open field space.

Veterans Freedom Park

Veterans Freedom Park is a 12.6-acre park featuring a memorial court of service flags, benches and the property's original veterans sculpture. Dominating the park space is a 90-foot white granite spire, assembled in Mt. Airy, and lined with LED lighting. The five seals from each branch of the military circle the base of the spire, creating an intimate and inviting space for reflection.

Western Carolina State Veterans Cemetery

Opened in 1993, Western Carolina State Veterans Cemetery already has more than 5,700 veterans and family members buried there. One of five state veterans cemeteries in North Carolina, more than 400 people are buried here each year, 80% of them veterans. The state of North Carolina provides one burial plot per veteran at no charge. On Memorial Day Weekend, American flags are placed at every grave and a ceremony is held.

Beirut Memorial

The Beirut Memorial was a gift from the citizens of Onslow County. It stands as a solemn tribute to 273 Marines who gave the last full measure of devotion in Lebanon and Grenada on October 23, 1983. The names of each man are engraved in granite along with the words "They Came In Peace." Each year, an observance ceremony takes place on Oct. 23 at the Beirut Memorial for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

North Carolina Korean War Memorial

The Korean War Memorial is comprised of a central fountain surrounded by four granite pillars. The 11-foot tall pillars are inscribed with the names of the 788 North Carolinians who were killed or listed as missing in action during the Korean War. An eternal fountain in the shape of the Korean Taeguek, a part of the South Korean flag, is featured in the center of the memorial. Two life-sized statues of American soldiers — one dressed in a Class A uniform and the other in a poncho — are also a part of the memorial.

Guilford County Veterans Memorial

The Guilford County Veterans Memorial is a one-acre complex marked by a ring of memorial walls filled with inscriptions, maps and details of Guilford County's participation in various foreign wars. In the center of the walls stands an obelisk decorated with bronze plaques dedicated to the memory of those who have served in the military. More than 400 personalized paver bricks honor members of the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marines.

(c)2021 the Sun Journal (New Bern, N.C.)

Visit the Sun Journal (New Bern, N.C.) at http://www.newbernsj.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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